In a circular to its membership, president of the militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Takavaflra Zhou, says the year 2012 is ending on a bad note for teachers and unless they seriously strategise between now and early 2013, the next five years would be worse off for teachers than this year.
“The struggle that we must engage in early next year must develop the strength we may need thereafter and there should be no room for giving up by teachers.
“Our numerical strength, intellectual prowess and acumen will see us through. For the whole of 2012 government was reluctant to deal with salaries and only nominally increased transport and housing allowances,” said Zhou.
On average the basic salary for a teacher has remained at less than $259 – a salary Zhou said was worse off than President Robert Mugabe’s farm workers who earn $350.
He said the 2013 budget indicates ‘inflation related index increments’ and “if this is anything to go by, teachers should expect an increment of less than US$18 in 2013.”
“You need not be a rocket scientist to see that this is not only an insult, affront, a charade, but also a travesty of justice to the hard working teachers of Zimbabwe. This is enough to send us back to the trenches,” he said.
Zhou added that owing to the recent express permit by the Kimberly process for Zimbabwe to sell its diamond on the global market and revelations by diamond mining companies that they have made capital investments to ensure they double diamond production next year, teachers expect a heavy inflow of revenue into the fiscus that should translate into payment of salaries above the Poverty Datum Line (PDL).
Zimbabwe’s PDL is presently estimated at US$600.
Zhou said with election looming next year, the best time for public workers to “extract” an increment from government is before elections than “after victories have been declared.”
“Unless we take a leaf from history, teachers would have to wait for five years after 2013 before they can dream of any meaningful increment,” he said, adding that whenever there are elections in Zimbabwe teachers become open targets of violence.
Zhou claimed that in the bloody 2008 elections, the teaching profession lost eight teachers in state-sponsored political violence.
Teachers are demanding the convening of the National Joint Negotiation Council before schools open.
He added: “Teachers must brace for industrial action in January 2013 and if it means chewing barbed wire in order get better salaries so be it.”